Indeed, while Rea had put in a feisty performance with robust passes on both Biaggi and Melandri, his chances of victory seemed to have been dashed on lap 16 when he ran wide and onto the grass at Goddards.
However, he would quickly catch up with the lead group, his firm pass on Biaggi at the Melbourne hairpin leading to his dive up the inside of Haslam at the final corner.
Despite appearing rather sheepish on the podium, Rea's win has done wonders for his title challenge, lifting him to third, just 20.5 points off the lead now.
With Haslam and Melandri out of contention (Haslam would push his bike across the line for 15th and a single point), a rather bemused Biaggi followed through for second, a result that helps him eke his series lead to five points over Sykes, who was promoted to third place for his second podium of the day.
Long before the final corner controversy, Biaggi and Sykes were destined to multiply their advantage in the standings after Carlos Checa compounded his dismal weekend with a crash at the first corner.
Clipping the back of Eugene Laverty's Aprilia, Checa was sent into the path of his Althea Ducati team-mate Davide Giugliano and Jakub Smrz, the trio duly forced to retire. Checa's sole sixth place finish means he has dropped 23 points off the championship lead in fourth.
Meanwhile, Leon Camier turned in Suzuki's best result of the year with a fine ride to fourth, the Briton just three seconds off the leader even before he benefitted from the dramas ahead of him, while Sylvain Guintoli and Ayrton Badovini completed fairly quiet runs to fifth and sixth respectively.
Chaz Davies secured his best finish of the season for ParkinGO Aprilia in seventh position, ahead of Loris Baz and Peter Hickman, the WSBK newcomers claiming impressive top ten finishes on their debuts.
Hiroshi Aoyama completed the top ten on the second Honda, ahead of Niccolo Canepa, Lorenzo Zanetti, Michel Fabrizio – who was punished with a ride through penalty for jumping the start - Mark Aitchison and the hapless Haslam.
Elsewhere, having scored just a single point in race one, Eugene Laverty's dismal weekend ended with a spectacular crash at the start of the Craner Curves.